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Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I'm still waiting for Andrew to comment on last week's Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker detailing the secret deal the Bush administration made with Pakistan to let a known nuclear proliferator -an anti-American militant nuclear engineer willing to sell secrets to rogue states nuclear proliferator- roam free in exchange for a chance to capture Osama Bin Laden. It's like letting loose the Medusa to chase after one of the wounded snakes chopped from her head.

Anyway, until that comes more economic news. Clearly last week's dismal jobs growth stunned all but the most pessimistic of prognosticators and left the Bush team scrambling for ways to justify only 21,000 jobs created (keep in mind that in that same period around 50,000 potential new hires entered the workforce due to population growth alone). His latest excuse is kind of an old one, today he had Treasury Secretary John Snow tout the more volatile household survey of employment as a more accurate measure of the nation's jobs growth as the payroll report doesn't take into account farmers and self-employed workers. If it was true, this would be good -well at least okay news- for the Bush team as the household survey has indicated about 700,000 jobs above the payroll report over the last six months. Ah, but there's that if.

Okay, remember a couple of months ago when I ranted about the fact that the jobs that were being created in America were in retail and construction and weren't stable at all? Well now I have a new rant, it's about the household survey and it's liberal use of the term "self-employed." When I was growing up, I thought that a self-employed worker was some highly skilled laborer filling a special need in the marketplace that through a series of individual contracts was able to scratch out a living. Someone like my dad, an accountant who had his own office and served a rural community's farmers and small business owners. Well, I was partially right. It turns out, though, that as a paper delivery person, I too am self employed. Should I decide to sell Mary Kay Cosmetics, I would keep my self-employment status even if I quit my paper route. Three years ago when I had another job but nonetheless made $100 for the entire year on a poem I wrote, I was also self employed. If you don't see where I'm getting, letme give you an example of a household survey call (this is kind of paraphrased to keep it short):

"Hello, may I speak to the head of the household please?"
"This is he, how can I help you?"
"Sir, I'm calling for the household survery, are you the only adult of working age in your home?"
"Well no, my wife is also a working aged adult, why?"
"Sir are you and your wife employed at this time, including self-employment?"
"Uhm, well my wife is participating in this medical experiment at the hospital, but I don't think I am,"
"Okay, that's one. Are you sure you haven't done anything at all to try and earn money in the last month?"
"No, I mean, if I do I lose my unemployment benefits and that's all that's keeping us going at the moment,"
"No lemonade stands, lottery winnings, yard sales, nothing like that?"
"Well, I sold some baseball cards on E-bay..."
"Okay, whew, that's two. Alright, thanks for your time sir, have a nice day and we hope your sports memorabilia business prospers, Good-bye."

Alright, so it may have also been dramatized for effect, but the vagueness of the household survey's definition of self-employment shouldn't be propped on the public as a real gain of jobs in America. Instead President Bush should go back and do what he should have done four years ago and encourage spending in scientific research and venture capital (new fields have to be created before new jobs can be) rather than pork-barrel contracts to his buddies in the yacht club.

Bran 1:02 PM : |


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